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The Supreme Court dismissed the case filed by the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission against Rudolph Bumgardner, III, Senior Judge of the Court of Appeals and Humes J. Franklin, Jr., Retired Judge of the Twenty-Fifth Judicial Circuit. The Commission asserted the Judge Bumgardner and Judge Franklin violated the Canons of Judicial Conduct as set out in Part 6, Section III of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia and that the violations were “of sufficient gravity to constitute the basis for censure or removal” by the Supreme Court. Upon consideration of the entire record, the Supreme Court held that there was not clear and convincing evidence showing that the judges violated the specified Canons as charged. View "Judicial Inquiry & Review Commission v. Bumgardner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff’s medical malpractice action against Dr. J. Michael Syptak and Harrisonburg Family Practice. Plaintiff pleaded theories of intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence, alleging that Dr. Syptak’s unsolicited and offensive sexual jokes and sexual innuendo caused her preexisting conditions to worsen. The trial court granted summary judgment to Dr. Syptak on the basis that Plaintiff was required to designate a qualifying expert to testify on the standard of care and causation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s failure to designate an expert to testify concerning proximate causation of her injuries was fatal to her case. View "Summers v. Syptak" on Justia Law

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The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP) sought permission to enter Hazel Palmer’s property to conduct preliminary surveys in order to build a natural gas transmission line. When Palmer withheld her consent, ACP provided a notice of intent to enter her property pursuant to Va. Code 56-49.01. Palmer continued to deny permission, and ACP filed a petition for a declaratory judgment requesting a declaration of its rights under section 56-49.01. Palmer filed a plea in bar and a demurrer, arguing that section 56-49.01 applies only to domestic public service companies and is unconstitutional under Va. Const. art. I, 11 because it impermissibly burdens a fundamental right. The circuit court overruled Palmer’s plea in bar and demurrer. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 56-49.01 establishes the General Assembly’s intent that the entry-for-survey privilege be available to foreign natural gas companies that do business within the Commonwealth; and (2) Palmer’s fundamental property rights do not include the right to exclude ACP in this case. View "Palmer v. Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP) sent Landowners letters seeking permission to enter their properties to conduct preliminary surveys and studies in order to build a natural gas transmission line. When Landowners withheld their permission, ACP provided notices of intent to enter their properties pursuant to Va. Code 56-49.01. ACP then filed petitions for declaratory judgment against Landowners seeking an order declaring that the notices of intent to enter provided ACP with a right to enter Landowners’ properties. The circuit court issued a final order concluding that ACP was entitled to enter landowners’ properties pursuant to section 56-49.01. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that ACP’s notices were deficient because they did not “set forth the date of the intended entry” as required by section 56-49.01(C). View "Chaffins v. Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC" on Justia Law

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Clerks of court are statutorily designated custodians of court records, and therefore, The Daily Press must make its request to each jurisdiction’s clerk of court for certain court records rather than to the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia (Executive Secretary). The Daily Press made a request to the Executive Secretary under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act asking for a searchable version of a database hosted on servers operated and housed at the Executive Secretary’s offices. The Executive Secretary reached out to the individual clerks whose information it hosted to request permission to provide this information to The Daily Press. More than half of the clerks objected. The Daily Press then filed a petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the Executive Secretary to honor the request. The trial court denied the petition for mandamus. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that court clerks were the expressly designated custodians of the public records sought by The Daily Press. View "Daily Press, LLC v. Office of Executive Secretary of Supreme Court of Virginia" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The court held (1) assuming, without deciding, that the trial court erred by refusing to admit testimony regarding the victim’s alleged threats, the error was harmless; (2) the trial court did not err by excluding testimony regarding the victim’s alleged acts of violence; (3) Defendant waived his argument on appeal that the trial court erred in refusing to set aside the verdict due to false testimony; and (4) Defendant was barred from arguing that a statement made by the Commonwealth during closing argument was inappropriate. View "Carter v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue in this case was the validity of instruments executed by Beverly Gelber two months before she died. The documents purported to convey Beverly’s home and personal property to her daughter, Meryl Glock. Lawrence Gelber and Darlene Fleischmann, Beverly’s children and the executors of her estate, filed this lawsuit asserting that Meryl wrongfully induced Beverly to execute a deed of gift and bill of sale through undue influence and fraud and that the bill of sale, which Beverly executed in her individual capacity, was of no effect because Beverly’s personal property was held in trust. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court and remanded this case for a new trial, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in denying the executors’ motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of title and possession of Beverly’s personal property, in excluding records of real estate tax assessments on Beverly’s home, and in granting the motion to strike the executors’ evidence on the civil conspiracy claims; and (2) erred in excluding from evidence declarations made by Beverly disavowing the property transfers and in granting the motion to strike the executors’ evidence on their claims for undue influence and promissory fraud. View "Gelber v. Glock" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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Two property insurers issued policies to a Harris Teeter grocery store. The insurers together paid claims for property damage resulting from the malfunctioning of a county sewer line. Exercising their subrogation rights, the insurers sued Arlington County alleging an inverse condemnation claim under Va. Const. art. I, section 11. The circuit court dismissed the case with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in concluding that the original complaint failed to state a viable legal claim for inverse condemnation; but (2) the court erred in denying the insurers leave to amend their complaint because the allegations in the proffered amended complaint, combined with the reasonable inferences arising from them, asserted a legally viable claim for inverse condemnation. Remanded. View "AGCS Marine Insurance Co. v. Arlington County" on Justia Law

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For nearly a decade, Petitioner, as a pro se litigant, has filed numerous pleadings in the Supreme Court, all of which have been meritless. In 2017, the Supreme Court issued a rule to show cause against Petitioner, directing her to show cause why she should not be prohibited from filing any future pro se petition for appeal, or other pleading in the court, without first obtaining leave of court. In the underlying case, Petitioner field a complaint against Defendant alleging breach of contract and gross negligence. The trial court dismissed the case with prejudice. Petitioner unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court for an appeal. The Supreme Court denied Adkins’ petition for rehearing and instructed the clerk to comply with this order as it pertains to future filings, finding it necessary to impose a pre-filing injunction against Petitioner in this court. View "Adkins v. CP/IPERS Arlington Hotel LLC" on Justia Law

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A rational fact-finder could reasonably find that the totality of the circumstances proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant was the criminal agent in each of the offenses charged in this case. Defendant was convicted of two counts of breaking and entering and two counts of grand larceny. At the close of the Commonwealth’s case-in-chief and again at the close of all of the evidence Defendant moved to strike the evidence, arguing that the Commonwealth was not entitled to the inference that he committed the larcenies and burglaries. The circuit court denied the motions, finding the evidence sufficient despite the circumstantial nature of the evidence. The court of appeals reversed all four convictions, concluding (1) the burglary and larceny inferences were inapplicable because the evidence did not prove that Defendant had exclusive dominion and control over the stolen property, and (2) without the benefit of those inferences, the evidence was insufficient. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and reinstated the circuit court’s order of conviction, holding that the court of appeals erred in reversing the convictions. View "Commonwealth v. Moseley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law